IT advocate resigns after six years as ATF director

IT advocate resigns after six years as ATF director

John W. Magaw created the bureau's Office of Science and Technology.

Magaw modernized bureau with centralized architecture, more mobile work force and training

By Shruti Dat'
GCN Staff

John W. Magaw last month submitted his resignation as director of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms after a six-year tenure, during which he molded the agency's information technology architecture.

Soon after he became head of the bureau, Magaw created the Office of Science and Technology and appointed the bureau's first chief information officer to centralize and standardize ATF systems.

His impetus: He could not send an e-mail message to everyone on his staff because ATF used three incompatible e-mail programs. So Magaw set out to modernize systems at ATF.

He began by designing a bureauwide IT architecture and developing a WAN for the bureau's 220 locations, said Patrick Schambach, ATF assistant director and CIO.

ATF also adopted a seat management approach to PC acquisition under Magaw. The bureau negotiated a three-year rental agreement with Unisys Corp. for 5,000 PCs and related software.

'We latched on to seat management to level our payment strain over three years because we just did not have the money to outright buy new hardware and software for all users,' Schambach said.

Magaw and the Office of Science and Technology also consolidated the bureau's case tracking system by implementing a custom application built with the help of Performance Engineering Corp. of Fairfax, Va.

ATF also has made its systems more accessible to agents on the go, Schambach said. 'We have a very mobile work force, with about 60 percent laptops and 40 percent desktop PCs,' he said.

Magaw increased emphasis on training, science, technology and analysis by starting a two-year initiative to retain and attract employees in those areas, Schambach said.

Who's next?

ATF's new director will need to follow in Magaw's footsteps and create an electronic-service strategy for the bureau, Schambach said.

'In our regulatory efforts, the alcohol, tobacco and firearms industry would like to do business with us electronically,' he said. 'From my perspective, I hope the new director sees the value in investing in information technology.'

ATF expects to name a new director by Dec. 31, Magaw's last day, Schambach said. Officials at the Treasury Department, ATF's parent agency, want to promote someone from the bureau's senior management staff, he said.

Magaw, who was visiting South Korea, was unavailable for comment.

Before coming to ATF, Magaw was director of the Secret Service, a job to which he was appointed by President Bush. He began his law enforcement career 39 years ago as an Ohio State Patrol trooper and joined the Secret Service in 1967.

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